Operation Disneyland #3 – Designing Disney – Mary Blair “It’s a Small Word”

July 26, 2009

When Disney’s Mary Blair was working to design “It’s a Small World” for the 1964/1965 World’s Fair in New York City, she was incredibly up to date with art and design of the era.  Below are photographs of the ride’s facade at Disneyland.

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Below are concept sketches for the facade by Mary Blair, along with a video where she talks about the design process with Walt Disney prior to moving the ride to Disneyland from the World’s Fair.

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Blair may have been influenced by the work of Charles & Ray Eames, Alexander Girard, and Stig Lindberg; all who were incredibly popular at the time and were working with stacked shapes. Other artists may have included glass artist Georges Briard and fine artist Louise Nevelson.

Artwork by Stig Lindberg which incorporated stacked shapes

Artwork by Stig Lindberg which incorporated stacked shapes

Alexander and Susan Girard at the Herman Miller showroom with stacked shape artwork

Alexander and Susan Girard at the Herman Miller showroom with stacked shape artwork

Mr. Eames at home with stacked shapes

Mr. Eames at home with stacked shapes

Glass tray by Georges Briard

Glass tray by Georges Briard

Louise Nevelson's "Sky Cathedral"

Louise Nevelson's "Sky Cathedral"

Another of Louise Nevelson's wooden sculptures

Another of Louise Nevelson's wooden sculptures

The original World’s Fair ride also incorporated a kinetic sculpture titled “The Tower of the 4 Winds” designed by Rolly Crump. Unfortunately the tower was torn down when the fair ended.

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Crump and Disney with a model of "The Tower of the 4 Winds"

Crump and Disney with a model of "The Tower of the 4 Winds"

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Rolly Crump's "Tower of the 4 Winds" outside of "It's a Small World" at the New York World's Fair

Crump also may have been influenced by the work of Charles & Ray Eames and their solar powered “Do Nothing Machine”

Charles Eames with his solar powered toy

Charles Eames with his solar powered toy

The solar powered toy designed by Charles and Ray Eames

The solar powered toy designed by Charles and Ray Eames

Here are some more Mary Blair-isms that I found at Disneland:

Castle on top of a vendor

Castle on top of a vendor

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8 Responses to “Operation Disneyland #3 – Designing Disney – Mary Blair “It’s a Small Word””

  1. [...] the State of Illinois’ “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” and the Pepsi-Cola/UNICEF mash-up “It’s a Small World” – were actually a bit more tasteful, even though they featured a robotic approximation of our [...]

  2. [...] have to pause and share this picture of Alexander and Susan Girard, which i found in this amazing post by The Invisible Agent. Lots of eye candy at the end of that link, y’all. Isn’t this shot [...]

  3. [...] Louise Berliawsky Nevelson images via kickingwind and the invisible agent. [...]

  4. dutchbaby said

    Thank you for this highly informative and beautiful post.

    If only Disney did not choose to feature the song “It’s a Small World After All” over and over again, like an earworm that takes up residence in your head for the rest of the day.

  5. [...] gravitating towards repeating retro patterns–Lindberg and Girard textiles from the sixties, Mary Blair’s Disneyland architecture, modern-day stuff from Rex Ray and Jonathan Adler. All so round and [...]

  6. [...] her work and Girard are so strong that I did a search with both their names and that led me to this post which I highly recommend for both content and visuals –you’ll even find a short video of [...]

  7. [...] ********************** Terrific Blog post about Mary Blair’s artwork and design for the famous “It’s a Small World” ride at Disneyland: http://theinvisibleagent.wordpress.com/2009/07/26/operation-disneland-3-designing-disney-mary-blair-… [...]

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